Copyright (c) 2008 Gavin Ingham
One of the issues that comes up frequently when running sales training seminars is the thorny issues of goals and goal setting. In my experience, few people seem to set any goals at all and even fewer stick to them! Ever since reading Anthony Robbins in my early twenties I have been a keen goal setter… and it has worked well for me. As a salesperson they helped to keep me on track, motivated and focused. As a manager they empowered me to take action to get results. As a motivational speaker in the sales training arena they have helped to give me the edge that I need to get the results that I want.
It’s common knowledge that most successful people set goals. Most successful people know what their goals are. Most successful people are aware of the power of goals and goal setting. I have written about how important setting goals is before so today I thought we would do something different…
I have interviewed my good friend Andy Smith of Coaching Leaders about the power of goals and goal setting across your whole life not just your sales and business goals. Andy is well qualified to answer these questions: he is an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) trainer, EI (Emotional Intelligence) expert and executive coach who is a specialist in goal setting that really works. Andy is the author of the Dorling Kindersley book Achieve Your Goals: Strategies to Transform Your Life and has been featured in many publications talking about goal setting and other personal development subjects.
1. How will people benefit when they set goals?
Apart from being much more likely to achieve the goal itself, going for goals has an effect on our happiness levels. We are biologically hard-wired to feel happier if we have some sense of control and choice over our lives, which is what setting goals and taking action gives us. We change from feeling like victims of life’s circumstances, or at best passive consumers, into someone who knows they can make a difference. We are also learning along the way – even the mistakes we make, though they aren’t enjoyable at the time, will bring us valuable wisdom if we choose to learn from them.
2. Can you give us some specific examples of goals that people you know have set and achieved and how they have benefited?
Just some examples from my clients and students: some people have used these methods to hit and maintain their target weight and fitness levels for the first time for years, some have made their transition to a new career easier, or finally got around to living in a new country after dreaming about it for years. People have also used goal-setting to cope better with the curveballs life throws at us from time to time – divorces, redundancy, getting out of debt.
In my own life, I’d say the two biggest things so far becoming a published author (by Dorling Kindersley, a ‘proper’ publisher) and rather more significantly meeting my life partner Jules. I actually did set a goal of being happily married by the end of 2000, despite there being no remotely suitable candidates around at the time – and I’m happy to report that we did just squeak it in on December 29th of that year!
3. Given that, why is it do you think that most people don’t set goals?
I think there are two things going on here. One is that in today’s busy society, they never get round to it. There is always something “urgent” clamouring for our attention, with more tasks waiting in line when that one is dealt with. If people do try to think about their goals, they may be too tired from all the busywork to do them justice. So it requires a conscious effort to step off the hamster wheel and take some time to think about what’s important to you and where you want to get to. The best advice I’ve ever been given was “plan the time to plan” – set aside some protected time so that you can think about the future. This is equally important whether you’re working for yourself or in employment.
4. Is the old story that written goals are better than non-written goals true?
There’s a famous story about the “Yale Study” in which researchers asked Yale’s graduating class of 1953 how many of them had specific goals for their future in writing. Twenty years later, the 3% who had written goals had more personal wealth than the other 97% combined!
It’s a compelling story, it’s quoted by Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy and Zig Ziglar, plus legions of other motivational speakers and it sounds as if it ought to be true – but, alas, it never happened. You’ll never see an academic reference for it, Yale have no record of it, and when ‘Fast Company’ magazine investigated the origin of the story, Robbins’ people directed them to Brian Tracy, Tracy said he heard it from Zig Ziglar, and Ziglar’s people suggested the source might be Robbins!
It’s still a good idea to write your goals down though – it’s the best way to get clear about them and keep them in the forefront of your attention.
For the rest of this interview check out part 2 or visit my website now.